Monday, January 17, 2011


This is the cookbook I turn to the most:
Cold Weather Cooking by Sarah Leah Chase - who used to be a Butterfield and Robinson bike trip guide. Check out the price - think there's a typo? I do... She is quite simply the best cookbook author ever. And no I have never met her, but I cook from her books all the time. Her Scallop Puffs are so good! I had a friend who called me for the recipe every time he was having a dinner party. Warren: I still miss you.

I made the Christmas Truffle Tart for my friend Migs' birthday last night. Don't panic - recipe to follow.
First: Use the best ingredients you can find. Strauss butter...
and Valrhona Chocolate...
Farmer's market or Clover eggs...
and Medaglia d'Oro coffee.
Put the chocolate cookies in the cusinart and process to fine crumbs. Dump them out, make fine crumbs of the toasted almonds.  She uses hazelnuts: I cannot find any that are not rancid. So I've been using almonds and I find I prefer them.
Mix the chocolate crumbs, ground almonds and sugar...
A flat whisk works well. Add the melted butter and press into a tall ten inch tart pan with a removable bottom. 
I have the best luck if I press the crumbs firmly up the sides first...
...then across the bottom.
I use a spoon and my (clean) fingers.

Refrigerate the crust and melt the chocolate, coffee and butter in a heavy saucepan.
Use a very low heat. Eventually it will look like this:
Remove from heat and set aside.  
Separate the eggs with your built-in best ever egg separator - 
 - and beat the egg yolks with the remaining sugar. At first it will look like this...
...but eventually it will be light and lemon colored. Like this:
Beat in the cooled chocolate mixture...
...and Sarah recommends saving 1/2 cup for piping stars on top. I was feeling lazy so skipped this step in favor of a little cocoa - but it is beautiful with the stars...
Spread half the chocolate mixture in the chilled tart shell. 
Carefully so you don't pull up the crumbs.

Beat the cream to stiff peaks. It beats better in a chilled bowl, and since I hadn't put the bowl in the fridge I cheated.
Dry the bowl before adding the cream. Stiff peaks - 
Fold the whipped cream into the remaining half of the chocolate mixture...
slowly and carefully.
WHen fully folded it will look like this:
Spread over the previous chocolate layer of the tart...
smoothing the top...
 and chill. Just before serving I put a doily on top and sieved cocoa over the top. Not as elegant as the piped stars but sooooo much easier.
And with all the candles who can tell?
Happiest Birthday Migs. You are so loved!

Christmas Truffle Tart

For the crust:
1  1/2 cups chocolate wafer crumbs
1/2 cup ground toasted almonds (she uses hazelnuts - I don't)
2 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons melted butter

Toss together the crumbs, nuts and sugar. Mix in the melted butter and press the mixture over the sides and bottom of a ten inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Refrigerate while preparing the filling.

For the filling:
1 cup butter
2 tablespoons instant espresso granules
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup sugar
6 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons Grand Marnier
1 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped to stiff peaks

cocoa powder for garnish

In a heavy saucepan melt the butter, chocolate and coffee granules. Set aside to cool.

In an electric mixer fitted with whisk, beat sugar and egg yolks until light and lemon colored, about 4 to 5 minutes (mine were done sooner). Beat in the chocolate mixture, then the Grand Marnier. Measure and reserve 1/2 cup for piping stars if you are so inclined.

Divide remaining chocolate mixture in halves. Spread one half over bottom of tart shell.

Fold remaining half of chocolate mixture into whipped cream and spread on top of chocolate layer in tart shell. Refrigerate until ten minutes before serving, but at least one hour.

If you're into stars, put reserved 1/2 cup of chocolate mixture into pastry bag fitted with star tip and pipe stars around rim of tart. I put a doily on it and sift cocoa over - it's still yummy. I'm not a good piper.

Cut into small wedges - this is very rich - and serve. Have a copy of the recipe handy; everyone asks for it.  Joni still doesn't believe I made it - she thinks I bought it. Not. Here's proof. 

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